How To Remove Clover From Your Lawn The Natural Way
Many people frown upon the idea of adding chemicals to their green spaces and they are right to do so. A lot of the times, the products that are made to kill weeds in your garden also can inflict damage to your other plants and soil. Here are a few methods to remove clovers from your lawn in a safe and natural way:
Clover: The Pros & Cons
White Clover in bloom can really stand out in a lawn this time of year. While some homeowners have no problem with it growing in their lawn, others would like to get rid of it. If you’re one of those insistent on getting rid of clover in your lawn, it may be a good idea to look at the pros and cons first.
- Although many people now consider it a weed, a healthy patch of white clover was considered a standard of excellence in lawn care until the 1950’s. In recent years, however, clover lawns have been experiencing a revival due to the many benefits.
- The flowers of White Dutch and other wild clovers are an important nectar source for pollinating insects including bees. We need to do all we can as responsible stewards of our eco-system to promote as many beefriendly places as we can. This may be one small thing that adds up and can really make a difference. Clover grows close to the ground and needs very little mowing in general. This may mean mowing less frequently or as high as possible to avoid cutting off all the blooms each time you mow.
- Clovers are legumes which actually improve the fertility and health of the soil. By pulling nitrogen compounds from the atmosphere and in turn putting that back into the soil, it’s a natural fertilizer for the lawn and does not need any additional fertilizer. Grass that is intermixed with clover will be healthier and greener with less effort than grass planted alone.
- Stains clothing more easily than grass.
Your Soil Is Lacking Nutrients
Every plant needs nutrients to survive, including clover. But clover is a lot more hardy than grass, and it has a better chance of surviving in nutrient-deficient soil.
Why? Because clover can use minerals from the air. This plant has special bacteria that live in the roots that help it survive in even the harshest conditions.
When your soil lacks nutrients, your grass wont be able to flourish, giving the clover an opportunity to multiply across your lawn.
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A Yard Full Of Clover
Theres a patch of clover in my parents yard that has been there as long as I can remember. Its proved impossible to kill, although I dont think any of us have tried too hard. You see, this special clover patch is legendary for its production of four-leaf clovers, and we all think its more fun to find them than it is to have a perfect lawn.
While visiting this past Mothers Day, my mom quickly spotted these with her eagle eyes the same eyes that always caught me thinking about misbehaving and always spotted my lost hair barrettes when I was late for school. Shes always been the best at finding them!
Even in my own yard, its really hard not to like clover. It doesnt need much mowing and makes a great low-maintenance ground cover. Its soft as velvet, attracts bees , has pretty white flowers, and is responsible for yummy clover honey.
Up until the 1950s, clover seed was a standard addition to lawn grass seed. Its only recently that we started viewing it as a problem in the yard, although its enjoying a growing popularity as an organic lawn alternative.
The Soil Is Compacted
Clover tolerates compacted soil better than lawn grass and has longer roots, enabling it to access water at deeper levels that your grass can.
Core aeration, a process that loosens compacted or heavy soils, can create a better growing environment for turfgrass and help reduce the amount of clover and other weeds in the lawn.
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The Benefits Of Having Clover Mixed In A Grass Lawn
Having clover in a turfgrass boosts lawn nitrogen levels and suppresses weeds in the lawn
Some homeowners choose a lawn seed mix that contains a combination of grass and clover. Making your lawn more sustainable is one of the several benefits of adding clover to your grass lawn. Many gardeners use clover in grass to maintain and enhance existing lawns. A lawn that has patches of clover growing in it is generally healthier and greener than turfgrass alone. Also, mixed clover lawns require less fertilization and maintenance.
Here are the benefits of growing clover in lawn:
- Clover adds nitrogen to your grass lawn. Grass needs nitrogen to grow, and clover has a remarkable ability to boost lawn nitrogen levels naturally. Clover contains in its root system nitrogen producing bacteria. When the clover dies it releases this fixed nitrogen back to the soil, making it available for other plants.
- Clover growing in lawn reduces the need for fertilizing. When clover decomposes, it adds minerals to lawn soil, thus helping grass grow healthy, robust, and disease-resistant.
- Clover stays green throughout the summer. Unlike turfgrassscorching summer sun wont burn clovers leaves.
- Clover suppresses weeds in lawn. Clover is a broadleaf plant which does a fantastic job of crowding out traditional lawn weeds such as dandelions.
Dont Mow The Grass Too Low
You will find that clover does well in grass that isnât so tall â usually shorter than 3 inches. However, your lawn grass finds this height stressful. So when the grass is too low, clover prospers while your grass struggles.
Therefore, make your grass taller than 3 inches. This way, it has a fighting chance against clover.
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Clover As A Lawn Grass
Clover is usually considered a weed and is fought with herbicides and other remedies by homeowners and landscape professionals in their quest for a perfect lawn containing nothing but turf grasses. A little reflection and botanical knowledge though can show you that white clover can be an ideal component within a blend of turf grasses. The fact that clover is a legume means that it actually makes its own nitrogen and fixes it in the soil. Not only does clover not require any nitrogen fertilizer, but it also supplies nitrogen for other nearby plants. Add this to the fact that clover is drought-tolerant, and we soon begin to wonder why we don’t want clover in our lawns.
In fact, clover actually was an intentional part of the typical American lawn prior to World War II. At that time, clover was a part of widely available seed blends, along with fescues, ryegrasses and Kentucky bluegrass. Because of its ability to thrive in poor soil, fix its own nitrogen and survive in drought conditions, clover was deliberately added to grass mixes in order to aid in the growth of the surrounding grasses.
Other Reasons To Make Peace With Clover
You may not have noticed if you only have a small patch in your lawn, but clover is a wonderfully smelling plant. Theres a reason pollinators always seem to find it the little blossoms have an incredible aroma.
Many people think clover looks rather pretty.
It can also be good to have clover in your lawn if you prefer to keep your lawn short. Thats because clover tends to prevent other types of weeds from taking hold in your lawn.
When you see lawns with a lot of clover, you will probably notice there werent many dandelions.
Clover also works symbiotically with beneficial bacteria.
These good bacteria attach to clover roots. This helps your lawn absorb nitrogen found in the environment, and of course if youve read any of my articles about lawn fertilizer then you know that nitrogen is what helps with green growth in lawns .
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Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Clover In Your Lawn
Does your lawn have clover? Do you just detest the sight of it? Believe me, I know how that feels. But while clover may not look so great in your all-green lawn, especially white clover, it has its benefits.
However, if you are looking for how to get rid of clover in your lawn, I have put this guide together to offer you a solution.
Advantages Of Clover Lawn
The main benefit of pure clover lawn is that it requires less maintenance than turfgrass and is more sustainable
Many homeowners choose to use pure clover lawn as an alternative to turfgrass rather than mixing clover and grass together. They do so mainly to save money and time on lawn care.
Clover lawns have several benefits compared to traditional turfgrass lawns.
Here are the main benefits of clover lawn:
- Clover lawns require less watering than grass lawn. Clover is on the list of drought-tolerant plants.
- Clover lawns dont require fertilization. Legumes such as clover add nitrogen naturally to the soil. This self-fertilization process also benefits other plants and grasses growing nearby.
- Clover lawns rarely need mowing. Clover is a low growing ground cover plant that only grows a few inches tall. Mowing clover lawns is usually only necessary to prevent blooming or to tidy their appearance in summer.
- Clover lawns require minimal maintenance. Clover suppresses common lawn weeds. A clover lawn is also cheaper to look after because you dont need to pay for herbicides, or fertilizers.
- Clover lawns stay greener for longer. Clover lawns are lush green from spring until fall. In southern states such as Florida, clover lawns stay green all winter.
- Clover lawns tolerate most soil conditions. Clover can grow in poor soil.
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Let Your Clover Boom To Help Bee Colonies
However, if you are not allergic and have older children , please consider letting it bloom. Bees are threatened around the world by a mysterious condition called colony collapse disorder . When a hive is struck by CCD, the worker bees spontaneously abandon the hive and disappear, leaving the queen, a few larvae, and the immature workers to starve. The cause of CCD is still unknown, but it is believed to affect hives stressed from habitat loss, parasites, and pesticide use most drastically.
Honeybees are the primary pollinators for a third of all human food crops. Some, such as almonds, are 100% dependent on honeybees to produce. If honeybee populations continue their rapid decline, food prices are likely to increase dramatically. To learn more about this crisis, please visit The Pollinator Partnership or the Xerces Society.
Homeowners can help by ceasing their use of chemical pesticides and insecticides, and letting their clover bloom.
Do You Have To Get Rid Of Clover
Some people hate the look of clover and want to remove it from their lawns, but you dont really have to eliminate it. In fact, clover has a few benefits, like:
It can correct nitrogen imbalances naturally. Clover often grows in areas where the soil is low in nitrogen. It then pulls nitrogen in from the air and releases it into the soil, naturally correcting any nitrogen deficiencies.
Clover attracts bees and other insects. Not only does this encourage pollination of nearby plants, but it also attracts predator insects to your lawn that can kill off any pests.
Some people think its pretty. Clover stays green, and some people like the look of its small white flowers. Plus, it smells good!
It can eliminate other weeds. Clover essentially smothers other weeds that are trying to take over your lawn. Because it grows so aggressively, clover often prevents other weeds from growing.
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What You Need To Know About Clover Lawns
For decades, clover was a part of any mix of lawn seed. But about 60 years ago, it fell out of favor because new weed killers on the market eliminated it along with dandelions. It soon became known as a weed, and now herbicides tout their clover-killing prowess.
But clover is regaining popularity as a lawn, in part because it doesnt require chemicals or fertilizers. In fact, lawn chemicals will kill it. It can be seeded as the lawn for new construction or sown into an existing lawn, often mixed with fescues and bluegrass.
I recommend it in Bahia turf if clients have a pet, because it takes dog urine without getting urine spots, says Teresa Watkins, a Florida landscape designer with SHE Consulting and cohost of the Better Lawns and Gardens podcast.
Clovers are winter hardy to -35 degrees F. They are less tolerant in the heat of the south, where they tend to be grown as a winter annual. In the south it thrives in winter and spring but sometimes cant take the heat in summertime, so it should be planted into existing turf, Watkins says. It does come back each year from seeds and spreads.
Clovers spread by underground stems called rhizomes, which easily allow the plants to creep through the lawn.
Agricultural Uses For Clover
Several species of clover are widely used as forage crops for domestic animals and as a soil-improving crop in agricultural farming. Easily grown in a variety of conditions and high in nutrients, clover makes an ideal field crop for cattle and other grazing livestock. Clover’s ability to fix nitrogen from the air enriches the soil, adding nitrogen for the following year’s crop.
Bees and other pollinators are extremely attracted to clover flowers, and clover is an integral part of their life cycle. While a lawn teeming with bees may not be for everyone, it is also a boon to larger environmental concerns.
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Use A Natural Weed Killer
You can mix your own natural weed killer and apply it to the patch of lawn where you have clover.
The best type to use is the vinegar mixture. For you to get it right, mix 1 drop of dish soap and 1 cup of vinegar. Next, add 1 cup of water to it.
Shake the mixture thoroughly and pour it into a spray bottle. Now, you take it to the part of the lawn where the clover is growing. Spray it and make sure it gets all the clover.
The vinegar in the mixture will cause the leaves of the clover to dry out. And the soap will cause the vinegar stick to the leaves. The water is just to mix the other ingredients properly.
You may have to repeat the spraying process for several weeks before all the clover dries out. And there is also the chance the mixture will get to other grass.
But the good news is that you can control how it spreads. Simply target the clover and spray it directly. Ensure there is splashing on the other grass if you are particular about keeping it.
However, if you are going to go for commercial weed killers, try those which contain mecoprop-P and dicamba. If the specie of clover is particularly resistant to these ingredients, try a weed killer that contains fluroxypyr.
When to Apply Weed Killers
You should use these weed killers between April and August. If you use them after August, they wonât be as effective. This is probably because the clover and other weed have grown stronger.
Most importantly, ensure you learn how to safely and properly apply these weed killers.
The Types Of Clovers You Can See Growing In Your Garden
White or Dutch cloverThis type of clover is the most popular and can grow in almost any type of soil. The tiny plant can be found most commonly growing in medium to heavy alkaline soils. The dutch clover has longer stems and forms little white flowers that shape a ball.
Lesser yellow trefoilYou can spot yellow trefoil on lawns that have weaker looking grass. This clover spreads extremely fast if not monitored and can survive close mowing. We advise you to restrain yourself from cutting the grass in your garden lower in order to remove the yellow trefoil. The method can do more harm than good because it can weaken the tuft, even more, especially on poor soils.
Other sorts of clovers that you can spot on your lawn like birdsfoot trefoil, black medick, hares foot, and slender trefoil spread and grow by seeds.
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Issues With Using Clover As A Grass Substitute
There are a few things you should be aware of before creating a white clover lawn.
1. Clover attracts bees Honeybees are a wonderful thing to have in any garden as they pollinate the vegetables and flowers. However, when you have a white clover yard, the bees will be everywhere. If you have children or frequently go barefoot, there will be an increase in bee stings.
2. Clover does not hold up to REPEAT high traffic For the most part, white clover handles heavy foot traffic pretty well BUT, if your yard is walked or played on frequently in the same general area , a white clover yard can end up half dead and patchy. To remedy this, it is usually recommended to mix the clover in with high traffic grass.
3. Clover is not drought tolerant over large areas Many people think that a clover lawn substitute solution is best because white clover seems to survive even the harshest drought. It is only moderately drought tolerant though, when the different white clover plants are growing apart from each other. When they are grown close together, they compete for water and cannot support themselves in dry times.
If you are ok with the facts above about having a white clover lawn, you are ready to use clover as a grass substitute.